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Storage requirements for PV power ramp-rate control

J. Marcos
a,
, O. Storkel
b
, L. Marroyo
a
, M. Garcia
a
, E. Lorenzo
b
a
Dpto. Ingeniera Ele ctrica y Electro nica, Universidad Pu blica de Navarra, Campus Arrosadia, 31006 Pamplona, Spain
b
Instituto de Energa Solar, EUIT Telecomunicacio n, Campus Sur UPM, 28031 Madrid, Spain
Received 30 August 2013; received in revised form 24 October 2013; accepted 28 October 2013
Communicated by: Associate Editor Elias Stefanakos
Abstract
Short-term variability in the power generated by large grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) plants can negatively aect power quality and
the network reliability. New grid-codes require combining the PV generator with some form of energy storage technology in order to
reduce short-term PV power uctuation. This paper proposes an eective method in order to calculate, for any PV plant size and max-
imum allowable ramp-rate, the maximum power and the minimum energy storage requirements alike. The general validity of this method
is corroborated with extensive simulation exercises performed with real 5-s one year data of 500 kW inverters at the 38.5 MW Amaraleja
(Portugal) PV plant and two other PV plants located in Navarra (Spain), at a distance of more than 660 km from Amaraleja.
2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Grid-connected PV plants; Power uctuations smoothing; Ramp-rate control; Energy storage sizing
1. Introduction
Concerns about the potential of PV output uctuations
caused by transient clouds were expressed more than
25 years ago (Jewell and Ramakumar, 1987; Jewell and
Unruh, 1990) and are now attracting widespread interest
and attention, as a result of growing PV penetration rates.
As the PV power share in the grid increases, such uctua-
tions may adversely aect power quality and reliability
(Marcos et al., 2011a). In particular, power uctuations
of less than 10 min are typically absorbed by the grid as
frequency uctuations. This issue is of special importance
in relatively small grids, such as islands, with high penetra-
tion rates, because the smoothing eect from the aggrega-
tion of geographically dispersed PV plants is intrinsically
limited (Marcos et al., 2011b; Perpin an et al., 2013). It
was precisely an island grid operator, The Puerto Rico
Electric Power Authority, that recently opened the door
for PV power variability regulations, by imposing a 10%
per minute rate (based on nameplate capacity) limitation
on the PV plants being connected to its grid (PREPA,
2012).
Standard (without storage) PV plants exhibit power
variations far beyond this limitation. For example, up to
90% and 70% per minute variations have been recorded,
respectively, at 1 MW and 10 MW PV plants (Marcos
et al., 2010). Hence, compliance with such regulations
requires combining the PV generator with some form of
energy storage technology, to either add or subtract power
to or from the PV output in order to smooth out the high
frequency components of the PV power. Fuel cells
(Rahman and Tam, 1988), electric-double layer capacitors
(Kakimoto et al., 2009) and, mainly, batteries (Hund et al.,
2010; Byrne et al., 2012; Ellis et al., 2012; Leitermann,
2012; Xiangjun et al., 2013) have been proposed. Smooth-
ing algorithms can be found (Kakimoto et al., 2009; Hund
0038-092X/$ - see front matter 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.solener.2013.10.037

Corresponding author. Address: Edicio Los Pinos, Dpto. Ingenier a


Electrica y Electro nica, Universidad Pu blica de Navarra, Campus
Arrosadia, 31006 Pamplona, Spain. Tel.: +34 948 169 277; fax: +34 948
169 884.
E-mail address: javier.marcos@unavarra.es (J. Marcos).
www.elsevier.com/locate/solener
Available online at www.sciencedirect.com
ScienceDirect
Solar Energy 99 (2014) 2835
et al., 2010; Xiangjun et al., 2013; Loc Nguyen et al., 2010;
Beltran et al., 2011). However, storage requirements have
been scarcely addressed. Power and energy storage capac-
ity have only been derived from some rather simple and
intuitive considerations regarding PV output proles: sud-
den drops from full power to 0, which is obviously the
maximum conceivable uctuation, were assumed in
Kakimoto et al. (2009) in order to determine the size of
the required capacitor. Somewhat more realistically, a drop
from full power to 10% in 2 s was assumed in Hund et al.
(2010) to conclude that relatively small batteries suce.
Although detailed observations and studies on irradiance
uctuation are also available (Mills et al., 2009; Kuszamaul
et al., 2010; Mills and Wiser, 2010; Perez et al., 2012; Lave
et al., 2012), these have not yet led to specic engineering
rules in order to determine the storage system size to PV
output smoothing.
This paper presents a method to calculate, for any PV
plant size and maximum allowable ramp-rate, the maxi-
mum power and the minimum energy storage requirements
alike. The solutions based on the observed relationship
between PV output uctuations and PV generator land
size. 5 s power measurements were recorded at the output
of 500 kW inverters at the 38.5 MW Amaraleja (Portugal)
PV plant. Combining several inverters, any PV plant power
size from 0.5 to 38.5 MW can be considered. First, exten-
sive simulation exercises, performed with one year data
made it possible to deduce power and energy storage char-
acteristics for dierent PV plant sizes, dierent allowable
ramp-rates and dierent state of charge (SOC) control
algorithms. We then go onto propose a general model for
the worst uctuation case. Compared to the allowable
ramp-rate this model makes it possible to deduce analytical
equations for the maximum power and the minimum
energy storage requirements alike. The general validity of
this method is corroborated with power uctuation data
from two other PV plants located in Navarra (Spain), at
a distance of more than 660 km from Amaraleja.
2. Experimental data
The experimental data for this work is taken mainly
from the Amaraleja (South Portugal) PV plant. This plant
occupies an area of 250 ha and includes 2520 solar trackers
with a rated output of 17.718.8 kWp, up to a total peak
power of 45.6 MWp. The corresponding inverter power,
P

, is 38.5 MW and the ground cover ratio (GCR) is


0.162. The trackers are one-vertical axis models, with the
receiving surface tilted 45 from the horizontal. The plant
is divided into 70 units, each comprising 36 tracking sys-
tems connected to a 550 kW DC/AC inverter. The mini-
mum and maximum distances between the units, are
220 m and 2.5 km respectively. Thanks to extensive moni-
toring, 5 s synchronized records of the output power of
all the inverters are available from May 2010. From this
work, data was taken not only of the entire PV plant but
also of 5 sections with P

between 0.55 kW and 11.5 MW


(Fig. 1), making it possible to study the dependence
between the storage requirements and the size of the PV
power plant.
Furthermore, the geographic independence of the
method proposed herein was checked against an entire year
(2009) with 1 s data from two PV plants located more than
660 km from Amaraleja: Rada and Castejo n (South of
Navarra, Spain), with P

of 1.4 MW and 2 MW respec-


tively. Further details can be found in Marcos et al.
(2011a).
3. PV power uctuations without storage
Given a power time series P(t), recorded with a certain
sampling period, Dt, power uctuation at time t, DP
Dt
(t)
is dened as the dierence between two consecutive sam-
ples of power, normalized to the inverter power P

. That is:
DP
Dt
t
Pt Pt Dt
P

100 % 1
It is then possible to compare the time series of DP
Dt
(t)
with a given ramp value, r, and count the time the uctua-
tions exceed the ramp (abs [DP
Dt
(t)] > r). Fig. 2 shows the
results for a full year (July 2010June 2011) and for the dif-
ferent Amaraleja PV sections described above. As
expected, the occurrence of uctuations decreases with r
and with P

. For r = 1%/min and P

= 550 kW, power


uctuation exceed the ramp for 40% of the time. For the
same ramp, increasing the PV size to P

= 38.5 MW
Fig. 1. Field distribution of the Amaraleja PV plant sections considered in
this work.
Fig. 2. Frequency over one year (July 2010June 2011) of PV power
uctuations calculated in 1-min time window, DP
1min
(t), are superior to a
given ramp r (%/min). The frequency value is given in relative terms to the
total production time (4380 h).
J. Marcos et al. / Solar Energy 99 (2014) 2835 29
reduces the time the ramp is exceeded to 23%, whilst for a
much less stringent ramp, r = 30%/min, these values drop
to 3% and 0.1%, respectively. These examples show that
imposing power ramp limits (typically around 10%/min)
makes it necessary to resort to an Energy Storage System
(ESS) even when large PV plants are concerned. In this
paper we will assume that our ESS is a battery, just to
make the presentation easier, although all the analyses
shown are equally valid for any other storage technology.
4. Smoothing of power uctuations by energy storage
4.1. Ramp-rate control
Let us consider a maximum permissible ramp rate value
of the power injected into the grid, r
MAX
(%/min). Fig. 3
shows a basic model of the corresponding ramp-rate con-
trol. P
PV
(t), P
G
(t) and P
BAT
(t) are, respectively, the power
from the inverter, the power to the grid and the power to
the battery. Obviously:
P
BAT
t P
G
t P
PV
t 2
Initially, the inverter tries to inject all its power into the
grid, P
G
(t) = P
PV
(t). The control is activated when the
maximum allowable ramp condition is broken. That is, if:
jDP
G;1 min
tj > r
MAX
3
Fig. 3. Ramp-rate control model for a given P
PV
(t) time series. Looking
for simplicity, battery and associate electronic converter losses are
ignored.
Fig. 4. (a) Evolution of the generated power, P
PV
(t) by Section B (1.1 MW) on 31th October 2010 and the simulated power which would be injected to the
grid P
G
(t) in the case of disposing a battery which limits uctuations to r
MAX
of 10%/min (0.833%/5 s). (b) Battery power, P
BAT
. (c) Battery energy, E
BAT
.
30 J. Marcos et al. / Solar Energy 99 (2014) 2835
Then, the corresponding power excess or shortage is
either taken from (P
BAT
(t) > 0) or stored into (P
BAT
(t)< 0)
the battery. The energy stored at the battery, E
BAT
(t), is
given by the integral of P
BAT
(t) over time. In this way,
the behavior of the whole system can be easily simulated
for any time series of P
PV
(t). For the sake of simplicity,
any potential battery and associated electronic converter
losses are disregarded here.
As a representative example, Fig. 4 shows, for
r
MAX
= 10%/min, the 1.1 MW Amaraleja PV section on
an extremely uctuating day (31th October, 2010), the
resulting evolution of P
PV
(t) and P
G
(t) (Fig. 4a), P
BAT
(t)
(Fig. 4b) and E
BAT
(t) (Fig. 4c). Battery requirements for
this day derive from the corresponding maximum power
and energy values. In this example, the required battery
power is P
BAT,MAX
= 873 kW (or P
BAT,MAX
= 0.79P

)
and the required battery capacity is C
BAT
= E
BAT,MAX
-
E
BAT,MIN
= 175 kW h (or 10 min of capacity, equivalent
to 0.16 h of PV plant production at P

). It is worth men-
tioning that the daily battery energy balance is negative
(20 kW h). At rst glance, this may appear counter-intu-
itive, because the PV power uctuation distribution is
essentially symmetrical (clouds reaching and leaving the
PV eld). However, this can be understood by carefully
observing the battery charge and discharge dynamic. Note
that the area of upper regions (charging) is larger than the
area of lower ones (discharging).
Fig. 5 shows the result of extending the simulation exer-
cise to an entire year (July 2010June 2011), to all the
Amaraleja PV sections, and for r
MAX
= 10%/min. The
State of Charge (SOC) of the battery at the end of a day
has been concatenated with the SOC at the beginning of
the next day. As the example shown in Fig. 4, the tendency
of the battery to discharge continuously aects the entire
one year period. An important initial conclusion can be
drawn: instead of distributing the storage systems for single
power plants or sections within a power plant, it seems
wiser to add multiple sections or power plants to a single
storage system. On the other hand, the battery discharging
tendency leads to excessive battery capacity requirements,
in the order of some hours. More practical alternatives
are obtained when adding charge to the battery at dierent
times throughout the year, as will be seen below. Neverthe-
less, an important conclusion can be reached from Fig. 5:
the energy that must be managed through the storage sys-
tems is very low, only about 0.3% of the total energy pro-
duction for limiting the power ramps of a 0.5 MW plant at
a maximum of 10%/min (for this case, as Fig. 2 showed, the
battery time of use is equal to 8%). Thus, eciency related
aspects are scarcely relevant.
4.2. Overnight battery recharging
Overnight battery recharging from the grid makes sense
because electricity demand usually drops at night. Fig. 6
presents the results of a simulation exercise similar to
Fig. 5, except that this time, if required, energy at the bat-
tery is restored each night. That is:
E
BAT ;end day
i1
< 0 ) E
BAT;beginning day
i
0 4
In this way the tendency of the battery to discharge con-
tinuously does not aect the entire period of one year, but
is limited to one day and therefore signicantly reduces the
required battery size, which is now in the order of some
minutes. For example, battery requirements for
r
MAX
= 10%/min in the 1.1 MW Amaraleja PV section
are now P
BAT,MAX
= 890 kW (or P
BAT,MAX
= 0.81P

)
and E
BAT,MAX
= 451 kW h (or 25 min of capacity, equiva-
lent to 0.41 h of PV plant production at P

). The compar-
ison of these gures with the above mentioned results for
31th October 2010, reveals that power battery require-
ments, which are obviously imposed by the worst individ-
ual uctuation, tend to be constant throughout the
analysis period. However, the same is not true for the bat-
tery energy requirements, which are imposed by the uctu-
ation distribution throughout the worst day.
4.3. Daytime battery recharging controlled by state of charge
Another interesting battery recharging possibility, not
requiring energy to be supplied from the grid, consists in
establishing a reference value for the energy stored in the
Fig. 5. Evolution of storage time, E
BAT
/P

(h), in the battery during one


year (July 2010June 2011), limiting the ramps to a maximum of 10%/min
in dierent PV systems.
Fig. 6. Evolution of storage time, E
BAT
/P

(h), in the battery during one


year (July 2010June 2011), limiting the ramps to a maximum of 10%/min
in dierent PV systems with overnight recharge.
J. Marcos et al. / Solar Energy 99 (2014) 2835 31
battery, E
BAT,REF
and in implementing a control loop that
continuously tries to return E
BAT
(t) to this reference, pro-
viding the ramp-rate limit is observed and energy is never
taken from the grid (nighttime charging forbidden). Fig. 7
presents the corresponding model. The control will be faster
or slower depending on the value of K. For example, a value
of K = 1 means that if E
BAT
(t) E
BAT,REF
= 1 kW h the
control would request 1 kW from the battery. Obviously,
once the battery capacity is dened, E
BAT
control is equiva-
lent to SOC control.
In this way the battery tendency to continuously dis-
charge has no eect on the entire one year period or on
the entire one day period, but only on the short period the
control requires to restore E
BAT,REF
. This therefore further
reduces the required battery size. Fig. 8 shows the results
of a simulation exercise again for the 1.1 MW Amaraleja
PV section and for a one year period (July 2010June
2011). E
BAT,REF
and K have been arbitrarily set to
175 kW h and 6, respectively. The latter allows for a good
compromise between system stability and fast battery
recharging. Now, corresponding battery requirements are
P
BAT,MAX
= 890 kW (or P
BAT,MAX
= 0.81P

) and
C
BAT
= E
BAT,MAX
E
BAT,MIN
= 124 kW h (or 6.7 min of
capacity, equivalent to 0.11 h of PV plant production at
P

). Thus, the required battery capacity is signicantly lower


than that corresponding to nighttime recharging. In fact,
this K value is large enough to almost restore E
BAT,REF
just
after each uctuation. Thus the impacts of successive uctu-
ations become independent of each other and battery
requirements become essentially linked to the worst uctu-
ation, i.e. the individual uctuation requiring the highest
energy demand.
5. The worst uctuation model
Careful study of real worst uctuations observed at
Amaraleja lead us to postulate that the worst uctuation
is properly described (Fig. 9) by a power exponential decay
from P

to 0.1P

(or an exponential rise from 0.1P

to P

)
with a time constant, s (s), which is empirically correlated
(Fig. 10) with the shortest dimension of the perimeter of
the PV plant, l (m), by an expression such as:
s a l b 5
where a = 0.042 (s/m) and b = 0.5 s. Table 1 presents the
real s values observed at the dierent PV Amaraleja sec-
tions and Fig. 10 shows that they are in good agreement
with Eq. (5).
Fig. 7. Ramp-rate control model modied with additional SOC control.
Notice that the SOC control action is also smoothed by the ramp-limiter
in order to guarantee that power uctuations are always below r
MAX
.
Fig. 8. Evolution along July 2010June 2011 of E
BAT
(a) and P
BAT
(b) for section B (1.1 MW), a r
MAX
of 10%/min and with SOC control. E
BAT,REF
and K
have been arbitrarily set to 175 kW h and 6, respectively.
Fig. 9. Worst uctuation model. The blue line represents the P
PV
(t)
response to an irradiance uctuation (yellow line) and the red one is the
power injected to the grid P
G
with a ramp-rate control. The dierence
between P
G
and P
PV
is P
BAT
, the maximum dierence corresponds to
P
BAT,MAX
and the dened integral of P
BAT
corresponds to E
BAT,MAX
. (For
interpretation of the references to color in this gure legend, the reader is
referred to the web version of this article.)
32 J. Marcos et al. / Solar Energy 99 (2014) 2835
Battery requirements for ramp-rate limitation are easily
derived from the model showed in Fig. 9. We can see the
response of P
PV
(t) and P
G
(t) to a negative irradiance G(t)
uctuation. P
PV
(t) evolution corresponds to a rst order
system with a time constant s, while P
G
decreases with a
rhythm being set by r
MAX
. The power demanded to the bat-
tery P
BAT
(t) corresponds with the dierence between P
G
(t)
and P
PV
(t), Eq. (2). Therefore, P
BAT
(t) along the worst
uctuation time is given by:
P
BAT
t
P

100
901 expt=s t r
MAX
6
where r
MAX
is expressed as % per time. This expression gets
a maximum for
t
P
BAT;MAX
s ln
90
s r
MAX
7
Thus, the required battery power is given by:
P
BAT;MAX
t
P

100
90 s r
MAX
1 ln
90
s r
MAX

8
where P

, P
BAT,MAX
is expressed in (kW), r
MAX
in (%/s)
and s in (s). On the other hand, the battery discharging
process lasts until the time the power ramp reaches 0.1P

.
Corresponding time span, T
R
, is:
T
R

90
r
MAX
9
Thus, the required battery energy is given by:
E
BAT ;MAX

Z
T
R
0
P
BAT
tdt

0:9P

3600
90
2 r
MAX
s 1 exp
90
s r
MAX

0:9P

3600
90
2 r
MAX
s

10
where P

is expressed in (kW), r
MAX
in (%/s), s in (s) and
E
BAT,MAX
in (kW h). As the sign of the rst uctuation is
unknown, a double capacity battery is required to absorb
both the upwards and downwards uctuation:
Fig. 10. Adjustment of observed time constant values s vs. shortest
perimeter dimension l, Eq. (5). The general expression of this equation is
y = mx + n, where m gives the coherency to the units. In our case,
m = 0.042 (s/m).
Table 1
Characteristic power P

, shortest perimeter dimension l and time constant


s of the observed worst uctuation at the dierent Amaraleja PV sections.
Power, P

(MW) Short dimension, l (m) Tau, s (s)


0.55 158 8
1.1 158 9
2.2 318 11
6.6 626 25
11.5 896 32
38.5 1786 77
Fig. 11. Storage requirements for ramp-rate control: (a) battery power P
BAT,MAX
, normalized to inverter power P

and (b) storage time C


BAT
/P

, in hours.
Results derived from the worst uctuation model show good agreement with the ones derived from detailed simulation based on 5 s real data recorded at
dierent Amaraleja PV sections.
J. Marcos et al. / Solar Energy 99 (2014) 2835 33
C
BAT
2 E
BAT;MAX

1:8P

3600
90
2 r
MAX
s

11
For example, for P

= 1.1 MW and l = 158 m, Eq. (5) leads


to s = 6.14 s, and battery requirements for limiting the
ramp-rate to r
MAX
= 10%/min are, from Eq. (8),
P
BAT,MAX
= 0.84P

= 928 kW and, from Eq. (11),


C
BAT
= P

0.132 h = 145 kW h. For P

= 38.5 MW and
l = 1786 m, corresponding results are s = 74.51s,
P
BAT,MAX
= 0.53P

= 20.4 MW and C
BAT
= P

0.098 h =
3773 kW h.
Fig. 11 compares the battery requirements for the dier-
ent PV Amaraleja sections and for dierent ramp-rate
limits, as deduced from simulation based on a year of
observed 5 s data and as given by Eqs. (8) and (11). Good
agreement is clearly observed. Furthermore, in order to
check the general validity of the worst uctuation model,
we performed a similar exercise for two dierent PV plants
located at a distance of about 660 km from Amaraleja, at
Rada (P

= 1.4 MW; l = 260 m; s = 10 s) and Castejon


(P

= 2 MW; l = 310 m; s = 12 s), both in the South of


Navarra (Spain). Fig. 12 presents the corresponding results
which, again, show very good agreement between modelled
and simulation-derived data.
6. Conclusions and outlook
This paper has dealt with storage requirements for
smoothing short term PV power uctuations, studying the
relationship between PV plant size and ramp-rate limits,
and the required power and capacity of the battery. We pro-
pose an eective method in order to calculate, for any PV
plant size and maximumallowable ramp-rate, the maximum
power and the minimum energy storage requirements alike.
Extensive simulations based on observed 5 s power mea-
surements recorded at dierent peak power PV sections,
ranging from 0.5 MW to 38.5 MW, at the Amaraleja PV
plant were performed, considering three battery recharging
possibilities: at the end of the year, each night and
continuous SOC controlled recharging throughout the
day. Relevant conclusions are that the energy managed
through the storage system is in practice very low, and that
PV peak power aggregation reduces battery power and
capacity requirements alike.
When SOC controlled battery recharging is applied,
which probably represents the most practical alternative,
battery requirements are essentially imposed by the worst
uctuation. An analytical theoretical model for this uctu-
ation case has been proposed and validated, by comparing
the corresponding battery requirements with the ones
derived from detailed simulations based on real power data.
Ramp-rate control is not the only method for smoothing
uctuations; therefore, there is a need to study new ways
with smarter SOC controls that may result in a better use
of the ESS. Finally, the results presented in this paper indi-
cate that the time during which uctuations exceed the
maximum allowable ramp is very short. Consequently, it
would be necessary to analyze possible auxiliary functions
to be performed by the ESS (such as frequency regulation
or time shifting) to maximize its value.
Acknowledgments
The authors would like to thank ACCIONA for autho-
rizing measurements at its PV plants and for their sta
helpful collaboration. This work has been nanced by the
Seventh Framework Programme of the European Commis-
sion with the project PVCROPS (Photovoltaic Cost
Rduction, Reliability, Operational Performance, Predic-
tion and Simulation Grant Agreement No: 308468).
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BAT,MAX
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BAT
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